February 2003 News

Upset With Centre Over Talks, Mufti Speaks Out

10 February 2003
The Indian Express

New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Monday expressed his anguish over the Centre's silence on a fresh political initiative in Kashmir. 'Here you are talking to the NSCN in a foreign land and nobody has bothered to seize the opportunity in Kashmir - why this doubletalk?' he said. Asking the Centre to strike 'when you are on a strong wicket,' Sayeed wondered why the promised dialogue with the elected representatives - as announced by the Prime Minister before the elections - has not begun. 'I don't know why they (the Centre) feel shy of it (dialogue).' The chief minister, whose government completed three months, said that an initiative on Kashmir would start 'very soon.' Refusing to name the Hurriyat Conference, Mufti Sayeed said the Centre must talk to 'everyone.' The dialogue should aim at a final resolution of the Kashmir issue through consensus and an evolutionary process and not with any pre-conveived political formulae. Sayeed boasted of a 'perfect understanding' with the Central leaders on all issues, including the release of political detenues. 'Kashmir should not be a partisan issue and the preception here (at the Centre) too is not to treate Kashmir as an issue for elections,' he said in reply to a question. 'I cannot create miracle,' he said modestly. 'My job is just to create an atmosphere conducive for talks.' He listed the near absence of cases of 'excesses' by security forces during his tenure as his greatest achievement. 'The insurgency has to be fought but while dealing with our own people the security forces have to be more humane,' he said and claimed this policy had worked well. Claiming that development could be an answer to separatist aspirations, he quoted the example of Palestine. 'Even after Yassir Arafat got a territory of Palestine under the Oslo agreement, his first demand was for funds for development.'


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